Monday, October 01, 2012

Biking Betwixt Butterflies :Awesome Anchetty -200 Km Ride

Cryptically: Butterflies in Stomach Before Ride, Butterflies in the Eyes During the ride, Butterflies dancing in my imagination since then.

Came Chiddus Clarion Call- Awesome Anchetty is Near,
With Statuatory Disclaimer- Need Not apply those who Fear,
Screaming downhills negotiated safely showed we were skilled.
Grinding Climbs conquered without pushing proved we were Iron willed.
Back home- Son “Papa you resemble Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”

Languidly floating down a gentle slope, with swarms of butterflies all round for company, and dense forest covered mountains in the distance, the 200 km ride to Anchetty was a Saturday well spent indeed. Great weather mostly, up in the firmament, the sun and clouds merrily playing hide n seek , a few scattered showers, small dose of strong noon-day sun, just when I was struggling on the killer Anchetty climb. But the dense reserve forest and the view keeps you distracted, so you don’t really complain. And of course, the butterflies ! I have not seen so many butterflies in my life—yellow,orange,blue swirling clouds of butterflies, riding through them was sheer bliss. Sorry there are no snaps, am usually happier to capture the moments in my mind and savor the moment rather than trying to fiddle with my phone camera and come up with shots that don’t do justice to what I saw or felt.

As Calvin says “The Days are Just packed”, this day was no exception. Got up at 4, reached the starting point at 5:30 am and waited for the full team to assemble. A few riders were late, and few had dropped out without updating , 12 of us finally started off just before 6 am, reached Harohalli in quick time with no breaks by 7 am. Anil Kadsur turned back at this point, after enduring some good natured ribbing on his biking and running exploits, people asking if he is going to run all the way back. We went on to Maralwadi, had a quick breakfast of Thatte Idly,and started riding again at 8.30. 

After Maralwadi the topsy turvy curvy stretch starts, breathless descents ,braking hard while hanging to dear life, followed by long rolling ascents that seem to last forever. The most scenic vistas were all during the downhills, sometimes we had to resist the distraction of the vista and look ahead at the next pothole ready to send us toppling. Some of the downhills had patchy surfaces, the steepest one near Dodduru (Site of Previous ride Accident in 2009) we had stopped pedaling and were braking hard, Sandeep blitzed past on his MTB, overtaking all the roadies. A little after that was an under construction road, we tried to ride thru ,but failed, and the jitters were tingling my arms even 15 minutes later. So we dismounted and walked across half km stretch of paving stones, Sreeju  philosophically commented  “Sometimes you just have to admit defeat”. After that stretch Aman,Ankush,Sandeep,Sreeju,Sumit and I took a water refill break near Husanahalli at 9:30 am having done 60 km already. Sumit said  “ I prefer the uphills, downhills are too dangerous on a roadbike here” and I completely agreed with that. Saw a message from Dhawal, he had started late, and was trying to figure out our location, he was about 15 km behind, and I had a quick chat with him, hoping he would catch up. 

After the break, Aman and Sumit zoomed off ahead, and I did not see them for the rest of the ride. Sreeju, Sandeep, Ankush and I were in the second group, we were riding steadily savoring the rolling countryside, lush green fields with flecks of yellow mustard now and then, and the millions of butterflies all around. Pat of the stretch was through the reserve forest/elephant corridor with electrified elephant fences. We stopped at a school to refill our bottles at around 10:30 am. It was a 2 classroom school, and pretty soon the curious school kids (and their teachers) stopped their lessons and came out to talk to us and then stood at the gate of the school waving goodbye to us. 

Just after that break, I had to stop to take a call from Dhawal where I had to consult the fantastic Georg handmade Map. During that call, my phone started behaving weirdly due to the sweat on the screen, and I had to reset it. Important learning for future rides, take a handsfree kit, or a good old dumb phone which works in all conditions. The rest of the group went ahead, after that I was riding alone for the next 4 hours. I tried riding hard, and was a bit puzzled that I could not catch up with them by the time I got to Anchetty at Noon. Stopped to speak to Dhawal who was at the Hunsanahalli junction ,checked the map, and cycled on, hoping the other riders were all at the bathing point, and made the critical mistake of not refilling my bottles at Anchetty, and another mistake that my son pointed out when I got home*. The steep climb was exhausting , the sun was shining brightly at that point, I stopped to rest and eat some chikki, and drink water, but thankfully did not have to push the bike at any point till I reached the top of the climb. I saw an eaglet being trained in the art of flight by its mother, slowly learning to swerve left and right. I finally reached the Bathing point and was disappointed by the lack of water, and being unable to spot the other riders, so I just continued on the long and  slow climb up to Denkanikottai. It was sunny in stretches, and I had run out of water, with no refill option available in the forest, so I just pushed on and got there by 2:15. 

The town was jammed by a Ganesha immersion procession, slowly walked up to Sarvana Bhavan and called up Chiddu to figure out where the rest of the gang was. We took a quick count, and we ended up with 2 extra riders in our count as my estimate was Aman,Sumit,Sreeju,Sandeep,Ankush were ahead of me. The mystery was resolved when we did a name count, it turned out Ankush and Sandeep took the wrong turn towards Hogenakal and turned back after just half km on the wrong route, but I must have crossed Anchetty exactly at that time around noon, hence missed catching up with them. Dhawal was still about 20 km behind me, I hoped he would catch up with the third group, but from the later updates, he kept trailing the larger group all day.

Tried Calling Sumit, but did not get through, Sumit,Sreeju and Aman had gone ahead. I decided to wait for the rest to turn up, had a leisurely “Sapad” at Saravana Bhavan, and for a change I did not have to worry about my bike safety. There was a full contingent of Tamil Nadu police who were lunching there, and had setup a monitoring station to track the Ganesha procession. At 3:30 Chiddu and gang arrived, they had stopped to eat lunch at Anchetty, so had a quick round of cold drinks. Ashok and Ravindra had decided to drop out and take the bus. Ankush,Sandeep,Chiddu,Sreedhar and I started off at 4 pm, found all streets were blocked by the Ganesha immersion processions. Praying to Ganesh in his Vighnesh avatar did help us overcome the Ganesh procession obstacle, so we explored all the exits out of Denkanikottai town, before being able to move out by 4:30 pm. We decided to take the Hosur road as it was starting to get dark. Sreedhar had not eaten at Anchetty , so we stopped at Ramkrishna Café at Mathigiri and had very nice Idli/Iddyappam etc while debating the “Negative calorie balance (or lack thereof)” effect of long bike rides. Last stretch was the normal dense traffic stretch on Hosur road which we did in reasonably quick time. Ankush had to hurry to return the bike, so he went ahead, and Sreedhar dropped behind, Chiddu,Sanddep and I rode together till Silkboard and I reached home by 8:30 PM, where the first thing my 8 year old son said was “Your Nose looks like Rudolf the red nosed reindeer ;-( “.
*  This is the second Mistake I made near Anchetty—Not putting on Sunscreen, I remembered to put it only at the top of the climb, by then the damage was done.


At 10:52 PM, Blogger Figaar said...

enjoyed reading it. Thanks for nice write

At 10:50 PM, Blogger மாதவன் said...

Good read. I would love to join such future rides.


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